Birds eye view of Staten Island

Rabies Vaccine Baits to be Dropped on Staten Island

Due to a rise in animals testing positive for rabies in New York City and the surrounding areas, the NYC Health Department is organizing for rabies vaccine baits to be dropped in marshy and woody areas in the hope of inoculating wild animals – primarily raccoons – against rabies. They have already started to distribute baits in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.  

In Staten Island, 2 bats, 1 raccoon, and 1 cat have tested positive for rabies, therefore the health department and United States department of agriculture are arranging for rabies vaccine baits to be dropped on the Island from a helicopter, in early October. 

Two Horseshoe bats hanging upside down on a beam in an attic
A raccoon by a bush outside.
Two cats in front of a wooden wall

What do the rabies vaccination baits look like? 

The baits are small, brown, and may look like a ketchup packet. The vaccine inside is liquid and pink in color. They are fish-scented which attracts the animals.

Which animals are the main carriers of rabies? 

According to the Health Department, raccoons are the most common animal testing positive for rabies in New York City. 

Overall in the US, 90% of rabies cases are in wild animals and the majority of these are in raccoons, bats, foxes, and skunks. Most cases of human exposure to rabies occur from contact with bats, and the CDC report that at least 7 out of 10 Americans who die from rabies in the US were infected by bats. 

A family of racoons on the ground
little brown bats sleeping in attic upside down
A fox in a field of grass
A skunk in the wild

Why is the health department vaccinating animals against rabies? 

If treatment is not given within a very short time of exposure to rabies, the disease will progress and is sadly fatal in both animals and humans. Therefore, for residents in NYC and the surrounding areas, this recent increase in rabies cases is of concern, and residents are being warned to avoid contact with wild animals and to report any wild animal attacks to emergency services. 

It’s great to see that the health dept. is taking action to distribute vaccine baits and reduce infections. This effort will hopefully vaccinate a number of raccoons as they are usually active at ground level. For other wild animals, such as bats, which fly and roost in high areas, they are unlikely to be inoculated from these baits, so we cannot expect that this initiative will completely eradicate rabies infections in animals, and in particular bats around the NYC area.

Of course, only a small percentage of animals carry disease but it is still important to be aware of the risk to yourself and your pets.

Avoid contact with rabid animals

To protect yourself from rabid animals follow this advice:

  • Don’t approach or feed wild or stray animals
  • Keep trash cans and garbage well-sealed 
  • Don’t make contact with animals that are fighting
  • Get urgent medical advice if you think you have been exposed to a rabid animal
  • Do not allow wild animals to live in your property – stay alert to signs a bat colony may be in your house

How to protect your pets

  • Keep your pets on a leash
  • Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date
  • Spay/neuter pets unless you are able to vaccinate and care for their babies 
  • Don’t feed your pet outside
  • Contact your vet if you suspect your pet came into contact with a rabid animal

If you think your residential or commercial property may be housing a bat colony, get help immediately from a professional bat removal company.  

Your Local Bat Removal Specialist,

Michael Koski

Get Bats Out Owner and President Michael Koski


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